My Sunday was highlighted by the visit of the bands Typhoon and Radiation City to Brighton Music Hall. Being two Portland-area bands that I’ve been following for some time, it was a show I made sure to catch. And the night certainly didn’t disappoint!
Radiation City was up first, starting just a few minutes after 9pm. Their live show has improved considerably from when I first saw them more than a year ago – the addition of Patti King, a fifth member, undoubtedly helps to fill out some of the layered sounds found on the band’s recorded work. Her presence also allows for some excellent harmonizing with Lizzy Ellison’s powerful, soulful voice. But the vocal variation in Radiation City doesn’t stop there: guitarist Cameron Spies often has singing parts, shown Sunday on the gentle love song “Lark”; bassist Matt Rafferty sings on “Entropia”; and drummer Randy Bemrose leads on the track “LA Beach”, which unfortunately was not included in Sunday night’s set.
By and large, this was a top-level show by Radiation City. The set list was dominated by the band’s trademark indie pop epics, which often start soft and crescendo into grand conclusions. “Hide From The Night” was a particular high point. Still, the softer songs proved to be just as impactful – “Summer Is Not An Act 1” and the aforementioned “Lark” rounded out the set to make it feel much fuller than its 40-ish minute length would typically denote.
However, most of the commotion Sunday night was understandably for Typhoon, a band with a particularly devoted fan base, and a band that seems like it should be a whole lot more popular than it currently is. This past summer, fans raised over $60,000 through a Kickstarter to buy the band a new tour van – a necessity for a band that can sometimes reach 14 persons in size.
Sunday night I counted 11 on stage, and each member was integral in crafting Typhoon’s booming-yet-measured sound that’s like nothing else around today. The sheer fact that the stage included a ukulele, a three-piece horn section, and two drummers is something to admire.
From start to finish, Typhoon’s set was enormous, triumphant, and moving. Focusing on tracks from their new album, White Lighter, the band seamlessly transitioned from song to song, stopping only to thank the particularly enthusiastic crowd. Front man Kyle Morton was particularly impressed, this performance being the band’s first visit to the city: “What have I been doing not being in Boston?” he joked.
Upon the release of White Lighter, Kyle Morton wrote a letter to fans, ending with this: “When we started working on White Lighter, I had reason to believe that it would be the last thing I ever did. It is now six months since we finished. I’m still here and there’s still work to be done.”
He’s referring to his health struggles from getting Lyme’s disease as a child – the theme is evident throughout Typhoon’s work.
Typhoon’s one-and-a-half-hour set was bookended by a three-song encore touching on Kyle’s message. First starting with his acoustic masterpiece “The Sickness Unto Death” from the band’s first album, Hunger and Thirst, the band then finished the night with a lengthy, energetic, multi-movement song that has yet to be released. It proved a fitting ending to a night that was all about celebrating where the band has been, and where it hopes to go in the future.